Wikileaks' New Mega-Dump Allegedly Shows How the CIA Spies on You

This morning, Wikileaks released thousands of documents the organization alleges to describe tools and tactics the CIA uses to break into smartphones, computers, and even your TV. If the documents -- the first of a series labeled "Vault 7" by Wikileaks -- are legit, they offer a broad look at what the intelligence organization's hacking capabilities are and represent, in Wikileaks' words, "the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency."

Among the purported revelations: The CIA has managed to hack encryption on messaging services like Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram. The CIA has developed an arsenal of malware that it can use for its hacking purposes on a wide variety of consumer goods from the Apple iPhone to the Android and Microsoft Windows operating systems to Samsung TVs -- which can be turned into microphones to help users listen in on conversations even when they seem like they're turned "off." The CIA has been hoarding, instead of disclosing, "zero day" exploits -- nerdspeak for vulnerabilities and chinks in the armor of software -- from entities like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others in the U.S. tech industry, despite assurances from the Obama administration that it wasn't doing that. And that's just the tip of the iceberg from a dump that covers a time period between 2013 and 2016.

Per the accompanying Wikileaks press release: "The first full part of the series, 'Year Zero', comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia... This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA." Chunks of the documents, including the code for the hacking tools themselves as well as names and identifying information, have been redacted.

Nonetheless, Wikileaks claims that the contents of Vault 7 were "circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive."

For its part, the CIA is characteristically mum on the whole thing. “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents,” said spokesperson Dean Boyd.

Rest easy knowing that your TV could (maybe) get hacked at any moment and you wouldn't know.


Eric Vilas-Boas is a writer and editor at Thrillist. Follow him @e_vb_.